fishing harbor in the morningfishing harbor in the morning
©fishing harbor in the morning|OT Pays de Douarnenez
Sardines and canning factories

Sardines and canning factories

With a history dating back over 2,000 years, Douarnenez’s relationship with the sardine is one that stands the test of time!

An ancient skill

From the Roman’s making their garum to modern-day fish rillettes lavishly spread onto fresh bread, sardines always seem to be flavour of the month here, and with good reason.

There are 3 canning factories (‘conserveries’ in French) that continue to trade in the area, sharing their gastronomic skills in preserving sardines, mackerel, tuna and plenty of other seafood. Treat yourself to a few of their products in the local boutiques or even book yourself onto one of the site visits and see how it’s all made!


The canning factories

In 1850, driven by the industry in nearby Nantes, Douarnenez stepped into the market of preserving fresh goods in tin-cans. During the early 1800s, Nantes had pioneered this industry, thanks to the French inventor of airtight food preservation,  Nicolas Appert. Sardines in oil was one of this new industry’s favourite products.

Eugène Clairian was the first to open a small canning factory in Tréboul in 1853, soon followed by Jules Lemarchand and Auguste Chancerelle. From Tréboul to Rosmeur and along Port Rhu, an impressive 40 canning factories were built between 1860 and 1900.

Canning factories today

In 1878, 160 million sardines were put into tin cans in Douarnenez and exported throughout the world. This industry reached its height in the 1920s and 1930s then suffered serious decline, and gradually the various factories closed their doors.

Now there are only three canning factories in the area: Connétable, Petit Navire and Kerbriant. The latter is the only one that continues to make its tins in a traditional way and it is also the only one that is open to visitors.